Blue ribbons are awarded at places like horse shows, 4-H competitions and high schools in acknowledgement of outstanding quality and achievement. But why are they blue? The term originates from the French phrase cordon bleu which, when translated, means blue ribbon. During the 16th century, King Henry III of France established l’Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit (Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit). This select cadre of knights were awarded the Cross of the Holy Spirit medal in recognition of their service and chivalry. The knights became known as Les Cordons Bleus because the highly prestigious medal hung from a blue ribbon worn around the neck. Blue, the national color of France since the 12th century, holds a time-honoured place in the hearts of the French people. And, over time, the rest of the world adopted this “best of the best” icon, bestowing it to competitors of all descriptions.